Local air quality regulators are seeking an order to reduce emissions of a toxic chemical at Lubeco Inc., a Long Beach metal-finishing plant.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on July 21 filed a petition with an independent hearing board seeking the order to require Lubeco to reduce emissions of hexavalent chromium beyond existing requirements. The petition is scheduled to be taken up at an Aug. 23 hearing.

“We have identified Lubeco as a source of elevated emissions of hexavalent chromium,” Wayne Nastri, the air district’s executive officer, said in a statement.

Hexavalent chromium is commonly used as a coating for metals in aerospace components. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the chemical in sufficient concentrations is associated with respiratory ailments as well as liver and kidney damage.

The air district has been more aggressive in regulating hexavalent chromium emissions in the Mid-Cities region over the past year in response to stepped-up pressure from residents and environmental groups.

The district is also lowering the emissions concentration threshold that would trigger enforcement.

An environmental consultant representing Lubeco said the company has been caught in a changing situation regarding the chemical.

“The company is in compliance with all the existing laws and regulations with regard to emissions of hexavalent chromium,” said Bruce Armbruster, vice president of Rancho Cucamonga’s Jorgensen Environmental.

– Howard Fine

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